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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Sonatas for Piano and Violin - Volume 1
Sonata No. 1 in D Op. 12 No. 1 [20:13]
Sonata No. 3 in E flat Op. 12 No. 3 [17:33]
Sonata No. 6 in A Op. 30 No. 1 [21:16]
Sonata No. 8 in G Op. 30 No. 3 [16:12]
Chloé Hanslip (violin)
Danny Driver (piano)
rec. live, 2 March 2017, Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, England RUBICON RCD1010 [75:38]
This release marks an auspicious opening to what is proposed to be a complete cycle of the Beethoven violin sonatas from Chloé Hanslip and Danny Driver. They work well together, showing an appreciation of each other’s performing style and the disc seems well planned, with a mix of both early and later sonatas, although the performances of the Op. 12 are slightly less engaging than those of Op. 30.
I find their performance a little strait-laced and lacking in character, especially in the early sonatas and when compared with my chosen alternative, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov (HMC 902025.27), whose cycle of the complete sonatas on Harmonia Mundi takes some beating. There is some nice playing, particularly in the Rondo. Allegro of the D Major Sonata, but the extra panache of Melnikov and Faust wins the day.
The later sonatas display a greater sense of Hanslip and Driver actually enjoying themselves, which leads to more nuanced performances. They are quite effective in their playing of the slow movements, especially in the charming Tempo di Minuetto of the G Major, with the Hungarian aspect of the music being brought more to the fore here. I would still choose Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov, but Chloé Hanslip and Danny Driver come much closer to them in that work than in the opus 12. The playing of Danny Driver is at times inspired here, whereas that of Chloé Hanslip can be a little heavy handed and a bit forward.
The performance was recorded live and the recorded sound bears this out, as it is occasionally lacking in clarity and intimacy. There is, however, no audience input, which makes me think that it might have been recorded in an empty auditorium; it certainly has the feeling of a large hall. Danny Driver’s booklet notes are excellent and give some real insight into the music.